BANGKOK — An appeal court on Tuesday issued an arrest warrant for a coalition politician who was convicted for leading a riot that disrupted the ASEAN Summit in Pattaya nearly a decade ago.
The court dismissed the parliamentary immunity of Phalang Pracharat MP Waipoj Apornrat and issued an arrest warrant against him after he refused to attend today’s hearing.
Tuesday’s ruling affirmed the previous verdict in September, where 12 Redshirt leaders including Waipoj were found guilty of sedition, illegal assembly, property damage, and trespassing for leading protesters to storm the hotel hosting the ASEAN Summit on April 11, 2009.
Under the current constitution, MPs and senators cannot be arrested or prosecuted while Parliament is in session. However, judges ruled that Waipoj’s conviction was already made before the session convened.
The defendants received four-year jail terms each.
Waipoj had initially denied the charges, but then confessed after the September’s hearing. The court Tuesday dismissed his reversed testimony since it was made post-hearing.
The court also affirmed the jail sentence for two other defendants, Samrerng Prachamrua and Worachai Hema, who had also reversed their testimonies.
Samrerng and Worachai were taken back to the prison after the hearing, while Waipoj said he would carry on his MP duties until the court will make the final verdict on Jan. 15, 2020, adding that his immunity is still in effect.
However, parliament secretary Sorasak Pienvej disputed his claim, saying that the police can immediately arrest Waipoj because the court has already ruled out the case.
Still, the MP can still attend parliamentary sessions, Sorasak said.
Waipoj was an MP for Thai Rak Thai Party and People’s Power Party, which were parts of a faction loyal to former leader Thaksin Shinawatra, before moving to Phalang Pracharat in 2018.